I’m sandwiched in between an English girl, seemingly drunk, dancing and trying to sing along to the song playing aloud, and a group of girls to my right discussing the best approach when formulating pitch emails for different clothing and bikini brands.
“You should always add a little bit of fluff…but always, always make sure you put your name or brand in all caps, then an X and the company you’re pitching in the subject line,” the tiny one with jean short cutoffs says as she stretches one of her legs on the stool.
“Oh my God, that’s so smart,” rebuts one her seated friends.
Your God is definitely not my God, and I’m thanking my God right now that the free-spirited English girl dancing and singing has left the café. Oh, and now the pitch girls are leaving, too. My God is good.
That’s the worst part about Canggu. There are plenty great parts, too.
I’ve been irritated all day. It started when I woke up this morning, and it was raining and ninety degrees. No one’s fault, it just irked me. It wasn’t the weather, actually. It was, and is, all the people. There are so many people bustling around this tiny, ill-equipped town – constantly. It never stops. That’s fine, but I’ve reached my breaking point and now I’m irritated and scheduled to go off like a cannon. Tick, tick, tock.
In the water this morning, still raining, I called a local guy a “motherfucker”. He was territorial and possessive. He didn't understand but he knew I was upset. I immediately felt bad and paddled closer. Offering a smile, I began to talk with him. Not much English, but after that he calmed down. Disarmed, he became my ocean guide and I happily followed him around, sitting in the right spots and trading waves for the next two hours. His name was Ketut.
Mine calling him a motherfucker was lightly influenced by an article I’d recently read detailing the death of famed Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck. A few days ago, while in Nepal acclimatizing on the Himalayan mountain Nuptse, Steck fell to his death. Later this month Steck was scheduled to attempt a route that linked both Everest and Lhotse, something never before attempted.
Steck was renowned for his speedy ascensions up the treacherous mountains of Europe and the Himalayas, holding multiple records. He was a purist, and climbed without ropes – videos of his climbs are less that of a calculate professional, more reminiscent of an abominable snow beast staggering up these massive mountains as if he's being chased.
He climbed the south face of Annapurna Massif, a Himalayan mountain that has claimed the lives of some of the best alpinists, in a mere two hours and twenty-two minutes. His physical stamina and meticulous preparation garnered him the nickname, Swiss Machine.
The reason Steck came to mind, however, had nothing to do with climbing, but rather a fight at the base of one. In 2013, he and his Italian climbing partner, Simone Moro, were attempting the route that linked both Lhotse and Everest. As mentioned before, it was a bold route that had never before been attempted, and the same route that Steck planned to attempt later this month.
On the Lhotse Face the pair came across a group of Sherpas. The group of Sherpas were repairing the fixed lines used by the many commercial guiding companies that inundate the tallest mountain on Earth each season (last week there was a two-hour wait at the Hillary Step). On “fixing days”, as they’ve been dubbed, the commercial companies have agreed that no one climbs. This agreement is agreed upon by the guiding companies, yet it is debatable whether it is also contractual for a small professional outfit like the team of Steck and Moro that day.
The Sherpas became angry with Steck and Moro as they neared the lines, several of the Sherpas above the duo going as far to kick free chunks of ice, a lethal attack. Moro, notoriously fiery and hotheaded, called one of the Sherpas a machinke, which translates to “motherfucker” – far more offensive in Nepalese culture. The Sherpas instantly stopped their work and retreated to camp two. Steck and Moro stayed behind and secured the lines the Sherpas had left unfinished. They could have continued to the next camp, however, they decided to return to camp two, as well, to try to resolve the disagreement.
Upon their arrival, a swarm of Sherpas attacked them with fists, feet, and rocks. The brawl escalated quickly. Eye-witness reports circulated that many Sherpas were asking for Moro and Steck to be killed. Steck, huddled inside the mess tent, bleeding, was attacked by an onslaught of rocks, which sliced through the tent like knife through butter. Ueli Steck thought he was going to be killed. Footage here.
Eventually, the fight was broken up and both sides retreated to their respective camps. Steck and Moro would not get the chance to continue their summit attempt, choosing instead to abandon the climb entirely and return home. It would be four years before Steck would return to Everest, just last weekend.
Anyway, that’s what I thought when I, under my breath, called that Balinese ocean guide a motherfucker. No rocks, luckily.
The ocean has been angry all day long, choosing to rain most of the day. Unfortunately, I just sent a German girl out into the night, giving her directions to a restaurant down the road. She just arrived at the hotel. It’s pouring rain.
Tomorrow I’ll either go east to Keramas or north to Medewi. By scooter for both.
More later, as always.